Side Project Brewing

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Barleywine - American
Ranked #1
Ranked #49
4.71 | pDev: 5.1%
Side Project Brewing
Missouri, United States
Notes: Anabasis [uh-nab-uh-sis] is one of our favorite beers. A beer in which we haven't adjusted anything as far as recipe, water, hopping or fermentation since is was a homebrew. However, we continually experiment with different barrels and resting times, always trying to find harmony in this American/English-inspired Barleywine.

For the 5th blend, Anabasis was put into oak on October 8th of 2018 where it rested in Blanton's and Weller 12yr barrels. After 27 months, we chose a blend which consisted of 38.4% aged in Blanton's and 61.6% aged in the Weller 12yr. Blanton's is a perennial favorite for this recipe and consistently compliments the Anabasis profile. Weller 12yr barrels have always proven successful (D2 and DM also rested in Weller 12yr), but exhibit a softer finish to the already hoppy and assertive Anabasis.

Blend #4: Rested for 2 years in Blanton’s and Eagle Rare barrels before blending and deciding it was ready to share with you.

Blend #3: Aged for 24 months in Heaven Hill Barrels.

Blend #2: Aged in a blend of Blanton's and Elijah Craig 12yr Barrels.

Blend #1: Aged in a Blanton's barrel.
Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 220 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of dboon
dboon from Florida

4.74/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle. Dark brown pour with a fleeting off white head. Sweet caramel aromas. Big sweet caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, and chocolate highlights. Oak and booze copilots. Fantastic. Complex with a massive body. Truly this is an incredible beer.

Friday at 07:53 PM
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.76/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle poured into a teku

A- pours deep brown in color with a one finger creamy khaki head that reduces to a ring

S- caramel and toffee, leather, pipe tobacco, chocolate brownie batter, walnuts, brown sugar, rich oak and bourbon

T- rich caramel and toffee up front are followed by earthy notes of pipe tobacco, booze soaked raisins, digs and dates. The finish brings out bold barrel notes, adding more caramel, vanilla, coconut, rich oak and barrel juice. The finish gives more caramel and toffee, along with oak

M- heavy body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into a velvety finish

Apr 17, 2021
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jheimbigner from Washington

4.56/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Late check-in from notes b4

Pours a dark brown chocolate with a tan head.

Nose of dried fruit, barrel, chocolate, toffee/molasses, and leather

Taste follows dark chocolate, leather, dried dark fruit, barrel, mild heat

Feel is full bodied, minimal carb

Overall, best american barelywine I have had - especially fresh. No direct hop notes/bitterness shines through. It is a rich Barleywine best shared with friends

Feb 26, 2021
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Eyedoc27 from Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

#4. A lot of barrel presence. I agree with others that mentioned a port like presence with a welcomed dryness and soft/medium amount of sweetness. Phenomenal stuff

Jan 01, 2021
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pmarlowe from Virginia

4.31/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blend #4.

A: Pours a murky, opaque, very dark brown with a smattering of foam which dissipates immediately. No lacing or retention.

S: Candied dark fruit (plum, blackcurrant, grape), mild oak, vanilla, and cocoa, a bit of bourbon.

T: Luscious dark fruit, moderate dark chocolate and bourbon, a bit of vanilla bean. Finishes with mild tannins that offset nicely the moderate sweetness/fruitiness.

M: Medium-full body with medium-light carbonation. Very mild alcohol warmth.

O: Overall, the aroma and flavors are fairly muted and—while solid—are nothing spectacular. The fruit character and mild sweetness are great, though.

Oct 04, 2020
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GRG1313 from California

4/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Side Project continues to make desirable and drinkable stuff! This one is no exception and drinks wonderfully, yet it is not the "best of the best." I fear that hype gives it the 100 point score. It is excellent and very worthy of high scores - just not that high.

Jul 22, 2020
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Blend #4.

This one pours a very thick-looking and murky dark brown, nearly black, with a very small head, and no lacing.

This smells like caramel, leather, chocolate, oak, sherry, port, spice, maple, toffee, bourbon, and tobacco.

This is truly excellent stuff. It's got a lot of barrel, and it's much drier and more nimble than some of the absolute saccharine beasts you get in this style. There's a dry toasted oak thing, and the bourbon comes across swinging leather belts across the face. There's some spice and vanilla from the barrel, too. The base is more caramel and toffee than some of that dark dried fruitiness you often get from the style, but I do get a kind of dry sweetness, almost like sherry or port - that honestly could be some pleasant oxidization. The beer was in barrels for two years, so it's very possible.

This is medium bodied, creamy, and very rich and thick, with absolutely no booze character to it. This is 14%, and the booze is hidden just so well - it's a miracle in malt flexing.

It's easy to see why this is so well-regarded. It's really one of the best barleywines I've ever had.

May 18, 2020
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JMFP from Delaware

4.56/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was Batch #2. Toffee, caramel, bourbon, and earthy fruit. Easy to see why this brew is in such high demand. Cory King is a magician, flexing his muscle in every style.

Feb 14, 2020
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Sabtos from Ohio

4.41/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Semi-clear mahogany to prune juice dark brown with faint purple hues and a short fuzzy tan head that quickly dies to a used motor oil looking surface. There might be some tiny chunks of barrel char towards the bottom of the pour, but they are minimal.

Viscous, almost syrupy, yet silky smooth, Anabasis b3 kicks off with dark fruit and Reisen before a sudden, surprisingly woody barrel presence. It's a little splintery at first, and quite mature, before developing some notes of decadence with time, such as nutty nougat, maple, and hints of caramel apple.

Quite delicious, but maybe a little too woody, so I have a few other preferred favorites in this category. Frankly, I'm still surprised by the lofty pedestals that barleywines like this are placed while breweries like Cigar City just casually put out bangers on the regular that are AT LEAST just as good.

Feb 04, 2020
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Vidblain from Minnesota

4.66/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blend #3.

Pours a deep, rich brown in color - minimal head, not very much carbonation (favorable, in my opinion). It's tremendously rich and sweet, with a fair amount of hop presence, with a fair amount of barrel - not as much as I'd expected.

I think I'd prefer Aaron on any given day, but Anabasis is still tremendously good.

Jul 01, 2019
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.42/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

i have long been trying to track this one down, and i am stoked to finally have gotten the chance to enjoy it, blend three, an awfully fine example of the style, adjunct free if i understand it right, and truly wanting for nothing. it certainly is a beast of a beer, not just at this strength, but also with this amount of oak and sweetness, its a lot of everything, and its a proper sipper to say the least. deep deep caramel in color, reddish in the right light, neither murky nor clear, someplace in between, with just a short frothy khaki colored layer of foam on it from the bottle. the nose is crazy, an awful lot of bourbon and oak, i think it was heaven hill barrels they uses for this, and two years in them! heavy vanilla, wet tobacco, and english toffee abound there, some light tannins from the wood, as well as some oxidation when i taste it, something i never really mind in the style, and really is a sign of its maturity. the malt is huge, sweet like brown sugar and maple, and carrying that vanilla tune pretty nicely though the whole drink, a ton of body on it and a long linger even with the abundant alcohol at the end, its persistent. oxidation meets a robust english yeast strain too, bready and doughy even, adding a lot of depth. no hops really to speak of, although overall this somehow has some balance between all the elements at the end. whiskey for miles, boozy and sweet, dense and even chewy, but also fully wintery, warming, and satisfying. something to be shared for sure, but a prime example of the style and what extended barrel ageing looks like. impressive and worthy of being celebrated. that said, not the most interesting barleywine i have ever had, not the most dialed in i dont think either, but a special beer without a doubt!

Jan 20, 2019
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WhaleSlayer85 from Illinois

4.66/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours murky brown. Nose is figs, raisins, toffee, caramel, butterscotch, bourbon, char. Taste is a bit more subtle, with a well balanced profile of the aforementioned aromas. Nice, sticky slick mouthfeel. Overall, a very nice example of the style. Almost drinks like a stout.

Dec 03, 2018
Photo of Harrison8
Harrison8 from Missouri

4.65/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a very dark brown with ruby accents as it leaves the bottle and on the edges of the glass. No head. Aroma is toasty, roasty, caramel, butterscotch, herbal and floral hops. Flavor profile is butterscotch, toffee, caramel, and roasty, toasty malts. Big, deep complexity. Mouth feel is thick with a chewy texture. Overall, big, firm and filling. This is amazing.

Served from a 750mL bottle at the Side Project Cellar.

Dec 01, 2018
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eppie82 from Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Batch 4, from bottle.
Deep deep dark brown with minimal foam around the rim of glass. Very stouty in appearance, and that kind of follows into the rest of it. Loads of complex deep caramel, toffee, deep dark fruit flavors. Thick! Big barrel boozy too. I may actually prefer it more than batch 3, but this is definitely more stouty than your standard English Barleywine.

Batch 3 at Side Project - The Cellar.

Incredibly dark. Very much a stout appearance. No foam. Toffee, rich, sweet caramel. Great mouthfeel and smooth. Rivals King Henry.

Nov 26, 2018
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PDXAmbassador from Florida

4.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Old checkin. Had b1 alongside several derivations and TG stouts and it stole the show. Huge bourbon aroma, thick mouthfeel, complex chocolate and stout flavors, along with malty caramel and raisin sweetness. Had b2 a year later and it was great, maybe less bourbon forward than b1.

Oct 13, 2018
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rodmanfor3 from Vermont

4.43/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

There are two things that most craft beer nerds get wrong about Anabasis:

1) The pronunciation of its name
2) The perceived G.O.A.T status of this beer in the realm of barleywines

It took nearly four years to track down a pour of this legendary beer, but only a fraction of that time to realize that I -along with the majority of the craft beer world- had been deceived by the Hype-Lords of the American Midwest.

Anabasis is a largely one-note barleywine that delivers on mild licorice flavors with a prominent bourbon barrel character on the front of the palate and little else. It misses the mark on what a truly great barleywine should deliver in terms of taste. There is no depth of flavor or complexity to this beer (on the palate), falling far short of the flowery "tasting notes" description that C. King offers on the label of the bottle.

Perhaps the saving grace of this beer is that it is remarkably thick, relative to other barrel aged offerings in this style. To this end, Anabasis resembles more of a stout than a barleywine, which sits well with the mouthfeel chasers of the hobby.

If you are a true fan of the barleywine style, Anabasis is sure to disappoint, given the incredible amounts of hype surrounding the beer and the overall underwhelming flavor profile it presents. If, however, your flavor preferences lean more towards simple stouts, this may be the beer for you; the mouthfeel and barrel character that envelops the base beer is world class and worth visiting if the cost of entry is low.

The letdown of this beer reminded me of my first Hill Farmstead Ann experience. A combination of low bottle counts, high trade values, exorbitant secondary values, and craft beer FOMO led to an artificially inflated expectation of the beer, one which ultimately detracted from the overall enjoyment of the drink in my glass.

There are many other barleywines that can be acquired and consumed with far less effort than it takes to land a bottle of Anabasis that likely will yield a more enjoyable tasting experience. I assure you, the rarity of this bottle and its secondary value do not contribute in any way to a more enhanced flavor or a greater overall enjoyment of this beer.

Oct 04, 2018
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Zach_Attack from Massachusetts

4.88/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12/2017 - incredible aromas of bourbon, light anise, plum, tobacco, and earthiness; smooth creamy body with raisin, sherry, tobacco, and nice semisweet flavors; supremely luscious mouthfeel that just blows me away; the finish is surprisingly dry and balanced.

Sep 25, 2018
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M_chav from New Mexico

4.08/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A mix between a stout and a barleywine, lil roasty and underwhelming next to some of the biggest barleywines we had next to it blind. Not something I will be going after in the future.

Jun 18, 2018
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Luscious_Malfoy from Illinois

4.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

blend #2 had at 2017 Anniversary Party at the brewery tasting room 4.65

blend #4 update: 5oz pour into a snifter. murky dark brown almost black mahogany tinted pour. no head. smells of bourbon, caramel, toffee, chocolate, leather. taste is similar. both are immaculate but even better might be the mouthfeel. this is a vast improvement over b3. one of the smoothest, easiest drinking barleywines i’ve ever had.

Dec 17, 2017
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MichaelCoyne from Michigan

4.96/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Had batch 2 on site from a keg. Easily the best barleywine I have ever had in my life. This shit is fire. If you are able to track down a bottle (will take a lot), you wont be disappointed

Aug 07, 2017
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Stevedore from Oregon

4.49/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml waxed bottle, served in a Side Project stemmed glass. Pours a darker brown body, one finger offwhite head, one finger white head, good retention, nice lacing. Smell is rich caramel, earth, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanillin. This is very much the barrel-aged barleywine. Flavour follows, heavy oak, caramel, toffee, vanillin, oak, slight earth, nice complexity, fairly sweet. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy, nice toffee and barrel on the finish. A very nice and heavy barleywine with a lot of sweetness; it doesn't seem to offer more oomph than say, Revolution Straight Jacket for example. I feel like this is a bit overhyped despite this being an excellent barrel aged English Barleywine.

May 01, 2017
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yesterdayfaraway from Missouri

4.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Batch 2

L: darker brown pour but black in he glass. No head, lifeless.
S: bourbon and caramel sweetness, by not a huge aroma.
T: more flavor as it it warms, but this is bourbon barrel forward. This had some typical caramel covered raisin sweetness, but those flavors are heavily trumped by the barrel. A bit of a let down but still amazing because the barrel is delicious and smooth.
F: medium thickness but so darn smooth. Slight booze and heat but in a good way.
O: fantastic beer, definitely let it warm to bring more of the typical barleywine flavors in balance with the great barrel.

Mar 16, 2017
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bennyman12 from Missouri

4.62/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

B2 at the cellar. Traded my first bottle(b1) 18 months and 62 trades ago as my first trade. Thanks Morandi, especially enjoyed befuddlement especially, but I'm happy to finally have this puppy tonight!

It's dark brown. No bubbles. Smells boozy as booze. Rum booze. Booze good. Stell-ahh!

Taste begins with Carmel (autocapitalize as if we're in Carmel by the sea. by the Sea). Quoth my buddy "the booze kind of dissipates. How does he do that? You're writing this down? I'm getting orange. And then the coconut. You have to mention the coconut. Like a toasted toasted pina colata."

Me: "yes! You are killing this beer review. And it has dates." Buddy thinks I'm taking about romantic dates or a beer named dates. Who would name a beer "dates?"

Katie of the cellar: "Yes. review is great. Like ..."

Buddy: "Is this too much? Are they going to lose this?" Buddy keeps insisting this is like derivation. This is not like derivation except in how it is thick with goodness.

Mouthfeel is very good. Full and not bubbly. Nor am I.

Great beer. Beer is great!

Mar 08, 2017
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gibgink from Missouri

5/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch #2 at the brewery on 3-4-17. Shared 3 ways so my wallet didn't feel the pain that much. Pours extreme dark brown with no head. This is a spectacular example of how barrel aging a barley wine can transform into a whole different brew. Sweet and succulent on the nose, with toffee and caramel notes blended with a light barrel note. Taste is off the chart. There was a grainy particulate or something that my tongue picked up that melted on the tongue and the toffee flavor that became borderline chocolate. Incredible.

Mar 06, 2017
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tapperm from Iowa

5/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had bottle 1 during a Barley wine Bottle Share.
L: DARK brown with a tinge of amber
S: Really nice carmelly and malty aroma.
T: Very well balanced of carmel, raisin, roasted malts.
F: Medium to thick
O: This was simply amazing. I love barely wines and this was probably one of the best ones I have ever gotten to enjoy. I had this along with Great from Apline, Aaron, and Brew 1000 from Fremont and was the best of those IMO.

Mar 03, 2017
Anabasis from Side Project Brewing
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 220 ratings